(New York, NY, October 28, 2013) – The grape harvest in the Provence region of France began on Sept. 2 in early-ripening areas – two weeks later than last year’s start date – and in early October in later areas. By the end of September, about half of the harvest had reached local cellars. Wine producers in this sun-soaked region, known for its gold standard rosé wines, are reporting a healthy crop and beautiful berries.
“Grape maturation this year was slow and smooth, which should foster a beautiful aromatic richness and a nice balance of freshness,” said Gilles Masson, director of the Center for Rosé Research in Provence.
Review of weather conditions
Provence experienced a long, cold, wet winter in 2012-2013, followed by a cool, wet spring. Since late June, however, the weather has been typical for the region: hot and sunny in the summer, with the first signs of autumn coming in September.
The summer heat was accompanied by the kind of thunderstorms that regularly cross Provence. Episodes of hail hit the central Var department in June and in western Provence in July and August. Localized damage was reported, particularly in the Sainte-Victoire Mountain area, but total harvest volumes for the region were not affected. In a pattern that’s normal for Provence, September brought beneficial rains that alternated with hot, windy weather.
Review of vine conditions
Vine growth in the spring began 15 days later than normal but was very strong early in the season. Flowering took place quickly under high daytime and low nighttime temperatures. In general, water stress was low, creating favorable conditions for high-quality rosés.
Mildew, which is promoted by humidity and intense heat, was present on the leaves but rarely on the grapes. It was kept in check by the cleansing mistral winds, which were prevalent near the end of the summer season. August and September saw a clear contrast between high daytime temperatures and low nighttime temperatures, a situation favorable to flavor development in the grapes. [View a video on how Provence rosé producers know when grapes are ready for harvest.
Early harvest estimates
At the time of this release, it is too early to know total harvest volumes, but estimates from oenologists and technicians indicate normal levels. “After a poor harvest in 2012 due to climatic events, the quantity of grapes harvested this year should be close to the average of the past few years, creating a typical supply for our markets,” said Jean-Jacques Bréban, president of the CIVP/Provence Wine Council. Estimates will be refined in late October, after all domaines have completed the harvest.
Juice volumes yielded during pressing also appear to be average, and the aromatic potential is very good. According to Masson of Center for Rosé Research, “The maturation of the grapes took place with moderate water stress and without excess of heat. With the slow, steady maturation we observed on the vine, we expect the harvest to yield balanced and beautiful wines.”
The Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP), known in the United States as the Provence Wine Council, is an organization representing more than 600 wine producers and 40 trade companies from the Provence region of France. Its mission is to promote and advance the wines of the region’s principal appellations. The organization’s members together produce 96 percent of Provence’s Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) wines. More information can be found online at www.winesofprovence.com or www.facebook.com/winesofprovence or http://twitter.com/winesofprovence.